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New Mexico State University

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NMSU criminal justice students win big at national conference

New Mexico State University's Alpha Chi Alpha was a big winner at a recent conference in New York City where they competed against more than 400 Alpha Phi Sigma chapters for awards and cash prizes. The criminal justice students won four individual awards, a chapter award, an adviser grant as well as $2,450. They also made it all the way to the semi-finals in a knowledge competition.

Members of NMSU's Alpha Chi Alpha gather for a photo during a recent competition in New York City. The criminal justice students brought home four individual awards, a chapter award, an advisor grant as well as $2,450. (Courtesy photo)

"I think it is important to note that these awards are not about nationals, but about the hard work that all our members did this last year on our anti-bullying theme and all the community service they participated in," said faculty adviser Andrea Joseph, an assistant professor in the criminal justice department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Alpha Chi Alpha is NMSU's chapter for Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society, which recognizes academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students of criminal justice, as well as juris doctorate students. NMSU students attended the conference in March.

The "V.A. Leonard Scholarship," which is named after the founder of Alpha Phi Sigma, went to Wesley Hazen, a junior, who also won an individual scholarship.

Alpha Chi Alpha President Javier Lujan, who graduates next month, won the "Member of the Year Award," for his service, leadership, unity and academic excellence, which are the four Alpha Phi Sigma values.

Graduate student Wesley Patterson, who is also Alpha Chi Alpha's vice president, won the "Student Achievement Award." This award is given to students for displaying exemplary character and demonstrated leadership within the chapter and for campus projects.

Additionally, NMSU's chapter was named this year's "Star Chapter," which came with a $200 award. The award is based on participation and administrative compliances.

"I could not have more pleased with the students," Joseph said. "Not just the awards they won, but in the way they presented themselves throughout the conference and the fact that we had 20 members attend."

Joseph, who has been the faculty adviser since 2010, was awarded a grant for working with students in managing the goals of A.P.S. As unity is one of the goals of A.P.S., students joined together and participated in a flash mob in Times Square. They also paid their respects at the 9/11 Memorial during their stay.

"For the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Criminal Justice, I believe the awards recognize the strength of A.P.S., the outstanding scholars in criminal justice and the dedication of the students from the college toward their school and their community," Joseph said.